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Up to this point, I've discussed building traditional Access client-side databases and run through some of the new tools and techniques that are available. This represents a very important part of the work done in Access 2007, but it is only one part. In addition, we've done a lot of work to make it easy to build client-server databases against Windows SharePoint Services. Doing this allows users who don't have the skills or privileges to be SQL Server DBAs to still get the manageability and stability benefits of storing data on the server, while retaining the ease of use of Access. This is a significant long-term bet for Access, and the level of server functionality can be expected to continue to grow in the future. I'll be describing Access 2007's SharePoint functionality over several posts, and will start with an overview of the server itself.
SharePoint is becoming increasingly well known, but is new to many Access developers. At the top level, it is simply a set of services that runs on top of Windows Server. It is shipped on the Office schedule, but it is included with Windows Server (i.e. if you have server, you can freely download the SharePoint bits). SharePoint provides the server cornerstone to the Office System, and SharePoint functionality appears throughout the Office client apps. SharePoint is designed to be a very horizontal technology, applicable to all Office users, and not limited to large organizations. We'd expect that eventually anyone with a file server, will eventually move to SharePoint, and those without servers will be able to take advantage of services like Office Live. There is an enterprise-focused SharePoint server, called SharePoint Portal Server, that runs on top of Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) and provides additional functionality to large organizations. Access 2007 runs on both, but with a few exceptions I'll call out, all of the functionality described below works on WSS and is included in the base version of Windows Server.
Windows SharePoint Services is described more fully here, but for our purposes, we can think of WSS as being composed of two parts: a platform, and a server application built on that platform. The platform contains things like an authorization model, a set of collaboration services, and flat file database (or "list") functionality this platform is highly programmable both directly and through web services, and in 2007 will have a dedicated design tool called SharePoint Designer. The application then builds UI on top of that platform to enable a collaboration app. This app is designed to enable team collaboration out of the box, and contains lists for things like a calendar, tasks, issues, and documents. User interact with SharePoint directly through the browser for adding or editing list items, uploading documents, or even modifying the site itself.
Here's a quick walkthrough of the parts of SharePoint that are most relevant to Access (there's a lot of other stuff we won't go through here, so if you're interested in SharePoint in general, please refer to the links above). Here's a picture of a demo SharePoint site:
(Click image to enlarge)
Clicking on the Announcements title, takes you to the default view on the Announcements lists, called the "All Items" view. If the all items view doesn't meet their needs, users can build their own custom views in the browser, choosing columns, column order, setting filters, and so on. The All Items view for our demo Announcements list looks like this:
In addition to the default view, each list has a single-item view and a single-item edit form. The single item view looks like this:
And the single item form looks like this:
You'll notice above that SharePoint has support for rich text, complete with in-browser tools for formatting, as well as the ability to copy / paste from other apps.
Office 2007 users can also use the Access Datasheet to edit list items in the browser through a grid, which allows quicker editing for multiple items. The grid looks like this:
Creating a new list is also done through the browser, and the user can select from a variety of built-in list types or create a custom list. The custom list creation UI looks like this:
Adding columns is done after the shell of the list is created, through the "List Settings" UI, where you can choose data types, defaults, and so on:
Each of the lists created shows up on the "List of Lists", which prevents orphaned content:
In addition to the very basic list functionality described above, SharePoint provides a number of other features that help users. You can turn on version history for list items, allowing you to see who made each change and when, and roll back those changes if desired. In addition, deleted items land in a "Recycle Bin" and can be easily undeleted. Here's what the recycle bin looks like:
The SharePoint team collaboration app and SharePoint platform provide basic in-browser database functionality - there's a place to store data and simple forms and reports. Of course it lacks many of the things that make Access so powerful (relationships, remote data, logic) but it adds some things that are also useful to database authors (server manageability, recycle bin, versioning). In the next posts, we'll explore moving Access database to the SharePoint server and discuss building apps that take advantage of the best of the rich-client and the rich-server.
Could Transact-SQL and store procedures be added to the next version of Access?
Am I to understand from the above that there will be no replication in Access 2007 (Nigil Scott AUg25th). Replication the one reason we use Access. Internet replication over VPN is vital for portables. Also I have been trying to relicate to an http address but there isa bug in Access 2003 that causes this fail. I am hoping to find this function alive and well in Access 2007. Replication and Internet replication being database to database without the need for servers is a winning feature. Is this functionality in 2007, if not what replaces it?
As our company considers the future based on this anything you can tell us about this would be most useful Chris
first of all, I am not a developer, but a "smart" final user... I love Access as I can do things with it without having to call my IT dpt for a 6 months specs/planning/testing for creating simple applications... on the other hand I am more more frustrated with the following points:
- size limitation (2GB)
- file size growing as soon as you start playing around (compacting is a pain!)
- can't always copy and paste SQL from other applications
- MOST IMPORTANT: I can't group my queries/tables/etc in a proper manner. I end up having quite complex DB a lot of queries and I can only organise them by numbering, impossible to categorise them. The favourites functionality is sxxt! is this finally solved? ciao Luca
Execuse me to post here, A small feature I think Access miss is Vertical Label that arrange character from bottom to top. Please consider. Thank you,
Any chance your team can get some demo videos up on Channel 9? channel9.msdn.com/.../In_the_Office
I have developed a field service system for logging engineers calls in access2000 with a sql2000 back end.
I am under increasing pressure to provide customer data on the web, so i would like some way of converting forms and reports to web pages that are limited to particular users(some form of user login) Is this possible in access 2007? Also is there such a thing as an Access 2007 runtime license and would it work on windows 2000?
I too am a freeky user, and have run our Company records on unique Access databases designed by me in Office 2007 Beta then B2TR. It is one hell of an improvement on the last major use in Office pro 95.
However, I am limited to SQL 2005 as my "Server" and data collection point. Why don't MS set up Sharepoint to run on XP? Many of us who don't need to go to sophisticated servers could well use such a development on our internal LAN setup.
Think about the really small guy for once in a while.
Access 2007 and Office Live. I am trying out Office Live Premium with Access 2007 and there looks to be loads of potential here. However, there are some strange things happening. One is that if I set up a form/subform based on two lists in OLP, I get the expected no. of records showing if I take the data offline, but not if I run it online. For example, I have two customers. Customer #1 has two branches; customer #2 has one branch. The main form is based on the Customer list and the subform on the Branches list with linked master and child fields based on the unique fields in those two lists, i.e. the OLP-generated ID's.
When I look at the form with it online to OLP, I see three records, the first two being identical and which are for customer #1. However, if I take the data offline, I get two records as you would expect in Access, i.e. Customer #1 has one main record with the expected two records in the subform. Though I need to sort out the above, what I would most like to know is where best to discuss Access 2007 working with Office Live / Sharepoint. It seems that Microsoft are restricted to telling people they are pleased that they are trying out Access 2007 with Office Live when questions are posted rather than answering any questions. I hope there is a suitable place to discuss this sort of stuff with interested people (Microsoft and/ or other people) as there is a huge potential for using Access 2007 across, but there is next to no support for those of us trying it out (at least that I can find).
I have not seen a response as to what replaces replication in 2007? I have many clients using this feature. I also have user-level security on most systems. Am I going to be stuck in 2003 forever? Could someone from Microsoft please respond? Thanks!
Re differing numbers of records showing depending on whether I am online or offline with Office Live, setting the RecordSource property of the main form to "SELECT DISTINCTROW Customers.* FROM Customers;" rather than basing it on the table itself ensures that only one record for each customer appears for the main form and allows the form to be updateable. Alan Cossey